Guwahati, Aug. 14: The Telegraph caught up with All Koch Rajbongshi Studentsí Union leader Biswajit Ray about the unionís statehood demand.
TT: What is the basis of your demand for Kamtapur? What will be its area?
BR: Kamtapur is a promise of the Centre given by an agreement with the old Kamatapur kingdom in 1949 before it merged with the kingdom in India in 1950. But Kamtapur was not created.
Various organisations and individuals have been demanding Kamtapur since 1951. The AKRSU joined it in 1990, the year it was formed. The proposed Kamtapur comprises 21 districts from West Bengal and Assam. It is not a movement to sabotage the Bodoland movement, as many believe.
TT: What will be the official language and its script in Kamtapur?
BR: Rajbongshi, the language used in historic Kamtapur. Weíll think about giving recognition to the languages of other communities also. Weíll discuss the script with litterateurs and intellectuals.
TT: Once Naranarayan (Koch king) gave shelter to Xankardeb (Assamese saint). Recently, a movie on Chilarai (Koch general) was made in Assamese. You speak fluent Assamese. How will you tell people not to read or speak Assamese if Kamtapur happens?
BR: Before Bodo language was recognised, the Bodos also used Assamese. The film was made in Assamese because Rajbongshi is not a recognised language. Language wouldnít be a problem.
TT: If you force children to study Rajbongshi, donít you think they will become victims of the transition period?
BR: We canít think of an overnight change. Weíll continue to use the existing languages till Rajbongshi is developed.
TT: Many areas in the proposed Bodoland and Kamtapur are the same. Your comment?
BR: A state based on a language or community is impossible. Because of community-based state demand, the dreams of the Bodos will never be fulfilled.
Besides, 30 per cent of the inhabitants of the proposed Bodoland are non-tribals. The Centre will not create a state where a minority community will rule the majority. We have appealed to the Bodos to join the Kamtapur movement.
TT: Recently you told a television channel that you would become the first chief minister of Kamtapur. What is its base?
BR: Iíll have nothing to say if Hagrama Mohilary or anyone else becomes the chief minister of Kamtapur. But Iíll surely be happy if I can be the first.
TT: You are sticking to an agreement made in 1949.
BR: We donít think it is too old a demand. If we are a bit late, then it is because of the Centre.
TT: What will the Koch Rajbongshis lose if they remain in Assam?
BR: Once we were the majority in lower Assam. Today, because of the presence of foreigners and inter-state migration, our population is not large enough to elect a Koch Rajbongshi to the Lok Sabha from Dhubri and Barpeta or from a state legislative constituency. Weíll become a small community and our tradition, language and culture will vanish.
TT: What are some of the mistakes made by Assamese people without which you would not have demanded a separate state?
BR: Till Assam movement, we considered ourselves secure in Assam. The Assam Accord did not protect our interests by including our demand for Scheduled Tribe status. In the movement, we were the most affected community. The so-called Assamese rulers, intellectuals and litterateurs didnít think about us. Had the Assam government thought of equal development of our community along with others, we wouldnít have thought of going away from Assam.